This one was more of an adventure than usual for various reasons, but more on that in a minute. First I'll show you what I came up with, starting with the road uniform...
And then the home uniform...
This one was a lot tougher than usual because I learned of the challenge while we were traveling and the deadline was going to hit before we'd get home. So literally the day before we would drive from my mother-in-law's in Long Beach to the San Diego Comic Con, we went out and bought a set of colored pencils and I started scribbling design ideas (not just one, but three, since I usually include new designs for the opposing teams as well) during our meals and I otherwise spent the rest of the day, up until midnight coming up with these ideas and commiting them to paper.
Usually I have a ready-made template to work with, but the first thing I had to do was draw by free-hand a new template. While I was doing that, my lovely wife Mary managed to get her mother's idle scanner up and working, which simplied my task significantly.
I was especially determined to give this entry my best shot because my submission to the prior ESPN.com contest (Detroit Lions) earned an honorable mention and one of the fellow entrants complained that the same people were getting singled out contest after contest and mentioned me by name as an example. That felt to me like it called for me to do everything in my power to earn at least an honorable mention whenever the next contest came up so I could demonstrate that I'm legitimately earning my recognition each time, not in some way taking advantage of some sort of favoritism. Little did I know that next contest would hit at such an inconvenient time (though life had been hectic enough over the last several months [including the deaths of two siblings] that there never was going to be a particularly easy time to participate in one of these contests).
My Timberwolves inspiration consisted largely of switching the team to the color scheme of Legion of Super-Heroes member Timber Wolf, who's always worn orange and gray. And since actual Timberwolves are gray, I thought a gray / silver home uniform was a good idea (you'll notice I'm not very excited about white home uniforms in basketball) and to my eye, nothing goes better with gray than orange, especially a yellow-ish orange.
I almost always give my designs some kind of cartoon mascot (in my opinion, a criminally under-used element that I think would greatly enhance the ability of sports teams to recruit kid fans who are mostly likely to become fans for life). So that was the direction I went in with the Timberwolves logo...
As is often the case, I had even more fun creating designs for the opposing teams, in part because I have free rein to work on any team for which inspiration strikes. And I'll include here scans of the receipts and napkins upon which I sketched ideas. Going to lunch, I started thinking about applying to some other team a version of the classic late 1960s S.F. Warriors uniforms (that had the Golden Gate Bridge in a circle under the number on the front of the jersey and the number on the back placed on a cable car) and the city that most lent itself to that kind of "iconic" imagery seemed to be Washington, D.C., so I quickly got some ideas for a Washington Wizards uniform (and yes, my Wizard sketches below are on the receipt for the colored pencils).
So I quickly came up with the idea to put the capitol dome in a circle on the front, create a flag motif for the number of the back (since my template doesn't show the back of the jersey I could only suggest this by placing that element on the leg of the shorts) and and put the Washington Monument on the pants stripe. I personally really like this jersey and would love to own one myself and think the team would be very well-served if they chose this as an alternate (or primary) uniform in the future.
It took several more hours to figure out something I was enthused about for the other opposing team, but while at dinner, my sketches stumbled onto something I liked...
As I made a list of NBA teams to consider, thinking of the Oklahoma City Thunder brought to mind how great the AFL's San Diego Chargers 1960s uniforms were and how much of an upgrade it would be for Oklahoma City to switch to something in the spirit of the old Chargers' uniforms, and from there, the design pretty quickly fell into place.
I did specify that my version of the team is called the Oklahoma City Thunderbolts because I hate singular team names even more than I hate teams named after states or regions.
We e-mailed in my entries from Starbucks right at the start of our Wednesday morning drive down to San Diego and when the contest results were announced a couple weeks later, as I hoped, ESPN Uni Watch columnist Paul Lukas gave me another honorable mention and again, his positive reaction was based mostly on my designs for the opposing teams -- and I agree, they're the highlight of my submission.
That extended my streak to 10 consecutive ESPN.com contests for which I'd earned at least honorable mention, something I never thought would be possible given the very professional level of many of the submissions.